Wednesday is Deepavali (also spelled Diwali), so Singapore is decorated, lit up, and celebrating. A friend and I ventured to Little India last Friday night for absolutely delicious banana leaf rice and masala dosa (also spelled thosai). We looked around at everything for sale at the Deepavali market, did a little shopping, and walked away with flowered henna on our hands.
We’re celebrating in school tomorrow and it will be fun to see everyone in traditional Indian dress. Very comfortable, too!
I haven’t been taking a lot of pictures lately but do want to share some of what I have seen and snapped. Singapore now has a neat bike sharing program, which has added to the already robust (but still dangerous) bicycling culture here. Technically it’s illegal to ride on the sidewalk but everyone rides on the sidewalk because it’s safer than riding in the road. I normally don’t mind but sometimes I walk faster than the people on bikes. And sometimes they don’t react when I’m running and the only place for me to go is in the road.
In addition to enjoying the various cultures that exist in Singapore, I’ve also really loved living in a truly local part of the island that feels completely different from the work world where I spend most of my time.
And finally, since we’re talking about color, here’s a sunset walking home late from work one evening:
To recover from our grade 10 trip to Cambodia and to celebrate Chinese New Year, I headed to the city of Ubud on the Indonesian island of Bali. The stereotypical Bali experience is one of beaches and parties, but Ubud is actually located inland without a beach. This helpful map comes from Lonely Planet:
I honestly didn’t do much while I was in Ubud and it was fantastic. My very wonderful Airbnb hosts directed me to the Yoga Barn where I bought a three-class pass and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Not only was the studio beautiful, but they also had a delicious juice bar! I took the photos below standing on the deck of Yoga Barn’s complex:
When I wasn’t in the studio, I walked around town, visited a few must-see sights (the market and palace), ate top notch vegetarian food (Ubud is perfect for those on a health kick with all the yoga and organic restaurants), drank local wine, and wandered in and out of shops.
Most families live in compounds, each of which contains the family temple. Balinese Hinduism is quite different from the more familiar Indian Hinduism, and I was glad to learn about it from my hosts. All around Bali people were erecting bamboo poles like the one below to prepare for the Galungan celebration, marking the return of gods and ancestors. I saw multiple families sitting outside and around their homes stapling together the bamboo flower decorations that wrap these poles, as well as putting together other offerings like the ones seen above.
As I wandered, I took pictures. While many of the photos below are the exteriors of temples, others are family compounds. Many of these, like the one where I stayed, are used in part for guest houses. The hospitality and tourism sector is the primary industry in Bali right now, thanks in part to the artists who came to Bali in the 1980s in search of an “untouched” place for inspiration. Rice farming, which still happens in Bali though not in trendy Ubud, was basically the only industry before the tourists arrived.
The architecture was probably the most interesting aspect of Ubud for me. I loved the stonework and the solidity and stateliness it gave to the city. Ubud felt solid, strong, and anchored in tradition. The more I talked to my hosts, the more I learned how family and religion are the center of Balinese life. In a very old world way, most people know each other, are related in some manner, and have been in their homes for generations. As a result, people are happy and comfortable and crime is relatively low. Add that to the yoga and it is no wonder being in Ubud left me feeling calm and centered.
Ubud Market, on the other hand, is the opposite of calm and centered. It is as cluttered and chaotic as any market I’ve seen, which made it a wonderful spot to take pictures:
Yes, it started to pour shortly after I took these photos. I ran into a nearby cafe for cover.
And that was my time in Ubud. Yoga, food, shopping (I actually made purchases for once!), and wandering. I took it very easy this trip (for once) and thoroughly enjoyed myself. How can you not in a place that has flower patterned sidewalks?
On New Year’s Eve, the clock strikes midnight and a new day starts. And that’s about it. I was about 10 years old the first time I was allowed to stay up to watch the ball drop, and I was sorely disappointed. The adults kissed, sipped champagne that no one wanted, turned off the TV, and ushered us kids up to bed. Happy New Year.
People in a variety of lunar-based religions and cultures around the world ring in a new year at different times, and follow different calendars that track different years. The Jewish new year celebration, Rosh Hashanah, takes place in the month of Tishrei (usually September or October) and this year we welcomed 5776. The Islamic calendar has changed a bit in recent years, but the new year often falls in October or November. Chinese New Year usually falls in January or February, and this year will be the Year of the Monkey.
However, most people live their daily lives on the solar Gregorian calendar, which has decided that December 31 is New Year’s Eve and that 2016 begins on January 1. Parts of the Western world adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1582; it replaced the Julian calendar, reforming leap years, leap days, and certain Christian holiday observances. As with any change, switching to the Gregorian calendar did not happen over night. Europe’s majority Catholic countries (Italy, Spain, Portugal) were the first adopters, with China waiting until the revolutions settled down in 1929. And because of time zones, we all ring in the new year at different times over a period of 26 hours. Yes, 26. Because not all countries have daylight savings time. Samoa and Christmas Island are the first countries to enter 2016 and most of the US Minor Outlying Islands are the last.*
As I wait for 2016 to cross over into Eastern Standard Time, I generally like to think about what I’ve done over the course of the past year, as well as what I hope to do in the coming year. I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions, mostly because I’m stubborn and make commitments to myself on a regular basis (and then, because I’m stubborn, actually follow them). That being said, I have goals. While I’m not going to share them on my blog, I will write them down in my journal so they’re documented for the sake of progeny.
In the meantime, today is just another day – with a big party and a whole lot of glitter at the end.
*The information in this paragraph comes from this website. (I am forever reminding my students to cite their sources and feel guilty when I don’t do the same.)
Photos, travels, musings, and ideas on education by a twenty-something teacher trying to make the world a better and more peaceful place